Monday, September 28, 2009

QB announcement Wednesday

Coach Eric Mangini today said he will wait until Wednesday to name his starting quarterback for the game against the Bengals on Sunday in Cleveland. He doesn't plan to keep his decision a secret as he did before the opener.

Brady Quinn was benched at halftime Sunday in Baltimore. Derek Anderson took over with his team losing 20-0 and threw three interceptions.

Anderson gives the Browns a better chance of beating the Bengals because he can stretch the field. Mangini has to weigh that against giving Quinn more time to learn whether Quinn can be the quarterback in 2010 and beyond. There is no way the Browns can go into next summer not knowing their starting quarterback.

Mangini and players say the problems are correctable. That one is getting old. They lost 27-6 in Denver and 34-3 in Baltimore. "Correctable" is adding a little more salt to make the gravy taste better. The Browns problems go way deeper.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wheels come off again

The Browns are getting progressively worse. They are 0-3 after being embarrassed 34-3 by the Ravens today.

Coach Eric Mangini says he and the coaches have to identify what the offense does well and improve those things. That could be a long search, because right now they aren't doing anything well.

Mangini benched Brady Quinn and asked Derek Anderson to lead a comeback when the Browns were down 20-0 at halftime to the Ravens. Anderson deserves a chance to start next week against the Bengals.

The run defense is terrible and the pass defense isn't any better. Even Josh Cribbs looks like a mortal on kick returns. The players keep talking about watching film and correcting mistakes. They are going to be bleary-eyed this afternoon.

Anderson takes over

Derek Anderson replaced Brady Quinn the first time the Browns had the ball in the third quarter Sunday. His first series ended when he threw an interception.

Quinn was 6 of 8 in the first half, but for only 34 yards. He threw an interception and was sacked once.

The Browns were 0 of 4 on third down in the first half and trailed 20-0 at halftime. They were 6 of 30 on third down through the first 10 quarters this season. Teams can't win and play like that.

Anderson takes over

Derek Anderson replaced Brady Quinn the first time the Browns had the ball in the third quarter. By the time Anderson stepped in the Browns were behind 2-0.

Anderson's first play was a handoff to Jerome Harrison for no gain.

The first half went exactly as expected. The Ravens overwhelmed the Browns in every facet of the game and trail 20-0 at intermission.

The Browns had four third down plays and did not convert any of them. Brady Quinn threw one interception on third down and was sacked on another third down. Teams that pathetic on third down have no chance to win in the NFL.

Underdog Browns undermanned

Adam Schefter of The NFL Network reported five unidentified Browns players have filed a grievance against head coach Eric Mangini. Tensions are high, and they are very likely to grow worse after today.

Few people outside the locker room give the Browns a chance today. They are not as physically tough as the Ravens to begin with, and now because of a hamstring injury they won't have their only physical running back, Jamal Lewis.

An 0-3 start will test Mangini's leadership. His stern discipline won't be accepted long if the Browns keep losing. It isn't all Mangini's fault. He could be the greatest coach in history and he couldn't coach me how to tackle Adrian Peterson or Willis McGahee. He doesn't have enough good players to win here, and that includes the players he and General Manager George Kokinis have added.

Jerome Harrison is starting in place of Lewis. Rookie receiver Brian Robiskie is inactive for the second straight week.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lewis doesn't practice

The Browns don't have much of a running game to begin with, and now they might have even less.

Jamal Lewis was not seen Wednesday during the 30 minutes the media was allowed to view practice. He was in the locker room before practice started, but not on the field.

The media relations department had no immediate explanation for Lewis' absence. He suffered a neck injury in the opener against the Vikings but kept playing. last week against Denver he carried the ball 14 times for 38 yards.

Fans disgusted with the Browns offense blame Lewis and say the 30-year-old back is over the hill. That might be, but he's the best the Browns have. It certainly isn't Jerome Harrison or James Davis.

The Browns will have to draft a running back first next year - if they don't have to draft a quarterback.

Lewis would have to be totally incapacitated Sunday to miss the game against the Ravens, his former team. He might practice Thursday. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Browns were horrible

There is no other way to describe it. The Browns were awful Sunday while losing to the Broncos,27-6.

Brady Quinn looks lost as a starting quarterback. He showed signs of improvement in the first half, but when the pressure was on in the second half he wilted. I'm tired of hearing how he is young and learning. Mark Sanchez is 2-0 as a rookie with the Jets and last year the Ravens with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco and the Falcons with rookie Matt Ryan made the playoffs.

Of course,it isn't all Quinn's fault. The Browns' top draft pick,Alex Mack, bounced a shotgun snap that resulted in a turnover. Josh Cribbs fumbled after catching a pass.

The Browns played badly on run defense for the second straight game and they did not get close to Kyle Orton. It could be a long, long season.

Quinn better, but Browns trail 10-6

Brady Quinn played better in the first half against the Broncos than in the game against the Vikings last week, but he didn't produce a touchdown when special teams gave him the ball at the Denver 22. Phil Dawson ended up kicking a field goal when the drive stalled on the Denver 4.

Quinn seems to hold the ball forever and then usually dumps the ball off. He did connect better with Braylon Edwards in the first half, and that is an encouraging sign.

The defense played well enough for the Browns to be in the lead at halftime. The ony touchdown the Broncos scored was on a nine-yard drive that started when rookie Alex Mack bounced a shotgun snap that hit Quinn in the ankle, resulting in a fumble recovered by the Broncos.

This is a winnable game. Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton isn't very good. Many of his throws are nowhere near a receiver. Fans booed him at the end of the first half.

James inactive; player fined $1,701

Good news and bad news for the Browns on the injury front - running back Jerome Harrison is in uniform after missing last week and the last three preseason games with a knee injury, but rookie James Davis is on the inactive list with a shoulder injury, a carryover from being knocked out of the game last week.

Browns rookie wide receiver Brian Robiskie has been Mr. Invisible except for one week in training camp when he seemed to be getting the hang of being an NFL player. Today he is Mr. Street Clothes as one of the Browns inactive players. Also inactive, for the second straight week, is tight end Martin Rucker.

And here's something to chew on during commercials today: According to a report linked to, an unidentified Browns player was fined $1,701 for failing to pay a $3 charge for a water bottle at a team hotel recently. Presumably, Coach Eric Mangini told his players beforehand such would be the penalty for failing to square up when checking out.

Is the fine excessive if the players knew beforehand what the penalty would be? The timing goes well with the column written by Les Levine today. Levine wrote several agents would steer their players away from the Browns after becoming free agents because of an unpleasant work environment in Berea created by Mangini. This only reinforces that image.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mangini gets fined $25,000

The NFL came down on Eric Mangini Wednesday for his role in keeping Brett Favre's condition a secret last year when Mangini was the Jets head coach and Favre played injured the last month of the season. Mangini was fined $25,000.

Before the fine was announced Mangini would only say, "It's a league matter." and dropped the subject.

What happened is this: Favre suffered a torn biceps tendon at some point in November. Last week, as Favre and the Minnesota Vikings were getting ready to play the Browns, Favre said he made Jets officials aware of the injury. He did not miss a game, but the league concluded Favre should have been listed on the injury report, even if it was "probable," a classification indicating the player has a 75 percent chance of playing.

Mangini said he always followed league guidelines pertaining to the injury report. The league didn't see it that way. The total fine was $125,000 - $75,000 for the team, $25,000 for Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and $25,000 for Mangini.

No one can remember another time a fine followed a coach to another team, but it was the right decision and basically a slap on the wrist. The league could have taken away draft choices.

I've always thought that should happen in college football; if a coach moves to another school and it is discovered he did something underhanded to put his previous college team on probation the punishment should follow him. As it is the new coach gets punished for something he had no part in.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This is a big week for Mangini

It did not take the Browns long to move their focus away from Vikings and onto the Broncos, their opponents Sunday in Denver. Coach Eric Mangini says he uses every game, win or lose, as a teaching tool.

The Browns were beaten by a superior team when they lost to the Vikings, 34-20. That was expected. What wasn't expected was some of the silly mistakes the Browns made.

James Davis, Joe Thomas and John St. Clair were each flagged for a false start at home in the fourth quarter. Noise wasn't a factor; the stadium cleared out fast when the Browns imploded. If the Browns want to hear loud, wait until they get to Mile High Stadium. It is one of the loudest places in the NFL. It is the Broncos first home game of the season and Denver fans will be fired up to see if rookie coach Josh McDaniels can bring back the glory days.

Mangini constantly preaches protect the ball and avoid penalties. He will reemphasize that this week in practice.

Don't look for any lineup changes not related to an injury. Don't even think about benching Brady Quinn for Derek Anderson. Chris Palmer benched Ty Detmer after one game in 1999 in favor of Tim Couch. The comparison isn't a parallel since Couch was a rookie, but a coach making a change that quickly looks indecisive. Mangini is sticking with Quinn, and that's the right thing to do.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mistakes bury Browns again

It was a tale of two halves for the Browns Sunday.

After playing sound defense and turnover-free offense in the first half to take a 13-10 halftime lead, the Browns fell apart in the second half of a 34-20 loss to the Vikings.Minnesota scofred 24 unanswered points in the first 24 minutes of the second half.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, held to 25 yards in the first half, rushed for 155 yards on 16 carries in the second half. Brady Quinn threw an interception and turned the ball over on a fumble in the second half. The Browns were penalized six times in the second half.

The Browns of Eric Mangini and Quinn in the second half looked a lot like the Browns of Romeo Crennel and Derek Anderson last year. The Browns are not good enough to turn a game around when things start going badly.

Coach Eric Mangini says last year has nothing to do with this season, but it does if those making plays aren't good enough to tackle better and protect the ball.

Browns falter, Vikings roar back

The Vikings scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 24-13 lead. Mistakes by the Browns led to both touchdowns. Sloppy coverage on the third quarter kickoff led to a short touchdown run by Adrian Peterson. An interception thrown by Brady Quinn on a pass intended for Braylon Edwards led to a touchdown pass from Brett Favre to Percy Harvin.

The Browns are not good enough offensively to recover from critical mistakes. They did not play with the same fire in the third quarter they showed in the first half.

It is early in fourth quarter as I write this. The clock shows 11:43 to play as the offense takes the field following a punt by the Vikings. The Browns went to the no-huddle at the end of the third quarter. Time to come up with Plan B.

Cribbs gives Browns halftime lead

Josh Cribbs reminded fans again Sunday why he is the most exciting player in the NFL. Cribbs returned a punt 67 yards with less than two minutes left in the first half to give the Browns a 13-10 lead.

The Browns have shown great resiliency so far. They had a touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards taken away by an obscure but correct ruling that Edwards did not get both feet back in bounds after being forced out on an interference penalty on the Vikings.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan promised his group would be aggressive and that's what we're seeing. The Browns are blitzing and hitting Brett Favre hard. Safeties Brodney Pool and Abe Elam each have a sack.

The Browns hit hard when they tackle. At halftime Adrian Peterson has nine carries for 25 yards.

Browns, Vikings even after one

The Browns put up a goal line stand at the end of the first quarter and forced the Vikings to kick a field goal, making the scoere 3-3 with three seconds left in the period. Phil Dawson kicked a 37-yard field goal on the Browns first possession.

Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley made the key play in the goal line stand when he fought off a block by tight end Jeff Dugan and dumped Adrian Peterson for a two-yard loss to the Browns 3.

The Vikings tried to surprise the Browns with an onsides kick on the opening kickoff. Abe Elam recovered for the Browns near midfield, but the drive died at the Minnesota 20 prior to Dawson's field goal.

Running back is thin, Quinn is in

The inactives for the game against the Vikings today were just announced. Running back Jerome Harrison is on the list with a knee injury and running back Cedric Peerman is on it with a thigh injury. It means Jamal Lewis and rookie James Davis are the only running backs in uniform for the Browns. Fullback Lawrence Vickers is playing, but he is a short yardage runner and blocker.

The other inactives: Defensive backs Marquis Floyd and DeAngelo Smith, guard Rex Hadnot, tight end Martin Rucker and linebacker Leon Williams.

Rookie center Alex Mack is starting over veteran Hank Fraley. Mack is 6-4, 311 pounds. Fraley is 6-3, 310. Mack is stronger, but the rookie will be tested by Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.

This item is at the bottom of this blog because it isn't really news. The Browns made it official around noon; Brady Quinn is the starting quarterback.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Now it's Qunn's turn

Brady Quinn, as we've been saying for weeks, will start for the Browns Sunday against the Vikings. He did not bury Derek Anderson in the quarterback competition, but in Eric Mangini's eyes he won it, and that's all that counts.

Mangini told each quarterback privately Tuesday night and tried to keep his decision secret. When the Browns practiced Wednesday after having the previous day off, Quinn was with the first team, acording to reports. Mangini has made it clear this isn't a trial run. He plans to stick with Quinn through good times and bad.

The idea Mangini could keep the identity of the starter a secret until Sunday did not have much chance of working, but at least he made the Minnesota coaches work overitme Tuesday, which for each NFL team is their biggest preparation day. For his part, Vikings coach Brad Childress said his team is more concerned about the 10 other players and what they do in various formations. I don't buy that. Quinn and Anderson have different styles. You don't just plug one in for the other, so the Vikings had to prepare for both.

Fans either love or hate Quinn, it seems. The Quinn haters have to be Notre Dame haters, because Quinn has only three starts in his Browns career. This is Quinn's third season, but he will be learning on the job. Fans will have to be patient. After experiencing eight losing season in 10 years, patience among fans is not in ready supply.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Browns have to run first

It really won't matter who plays quarterback for the Browns if they can't run the ball better than they did in preseason. Fans are excited abut rookie James Davis and with good reason, but he's going to find going against the Vikings starters for four quarters is a lot different than going against Chicago Bears no longer on the roster.

I've said it all along - the most important player on the Browns offensive roster is Jamal Lewis. Coach Eric Mangini and General Manager George Kokinis gambled they could get one more season out of Lewis. They were so confident he could still deliver they passed on Beanie Wells in the draft. Wells was drafted by the Arizona cardinals with the 31st pick, 10 picks after the Browns took center Alex Mack. For what it's worth, Mack is second behind Hank Fraley on the depth chart.

The Browns were right to not release Lewis when cuts were made on Saturday, but he was slow to the hole in preseason. His 2.6-yard per carry average is a warning signal. Lewis will play harder when games count, starting Sunday. But if he does not have success, the Browns will be in for a long season.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quarterback mystery deepens

So Eric Mangini did not play most of his starters in the final preseason game against the Bears Thursday. That isn't exactly revolutionary football. But since Mangini says he isn't certain who will start at quarterback - Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn - it has to make one wonder what will tip the scale with only 10 days left before the opener.

You can expect trade rumors involving Anderson to heat up before NFL rosters are trimmed from 75 to 53 on Saturday. Mangini has said repeatedly - though he hasn't been asked recently - that he has no plans to trade either quarterback. But just because he has no "plans" to make a trade doesn't mean he won't listen to offers.

Sixth-round draft choice James Davis was impressive again in the 26-23 loss to the Bears. Fans will want him to start over Jamal Lewis. He isn't ready for that, but the coaches should find a way to get him five to 10 touches a game.

Brian Robiskie finally came to life after a slow preseason. He caught three passes and recovered a muffed punt. Obscure running back Chris Jennings led the Browns with 57 carries.

The Browns committed stupid penalties - again. They were flagged for illegal formation, wasting a punt to the 1 by Dave Zastudil, and they were penalized for taunting after an interception by Mike Adams. The Browns are not good enough to overcome those mistakes.